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Why are my gums bleeding?

Bleeding gums is a very common complaint from patients and it isn’t something that should ever be ignored. In the majority of cases, bleeding gums is a sign of gum disease. However, there are various other things that could be causing this problem. An estimated 80 percent of adults have some form of Gum Disease.

So, what is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums which eventually can progress to affecting the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. There are three stages of gum disease:

Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease. The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria causes inflammation of the gums that is called "gingivitis." You may notice your gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. At this early stage gum disease can usually be easily reversed through daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Periodontitis: When Gingivitis is not treated appropriately it can advance into "periodontitis". In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

Advanced Periodontitis: If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed. Your dentist will provide restorative options if teeth are removed due to periodontal disease.

What causes Gum disease?

The main cause of gum disease is plaque. When you eat, small pieces of food can become lodged in your gums. If those pieces of food don’t get flossed or brushed away, they can potentially turn into acid or bacteria ultimately leading to plaque. If plaque is not removed, it will harden and develop into tartar (calculus). Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing from home and a dentist will need to clean your teeth to remove it.

It could be your technique of brushing in itself causing the bleeding! If you use a firm back and forth motion whilst brushing with a toothbrush which has hard bristles it could irritate your gums and lead to bleeding.

Other risk factors include:

  • Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy, puberty, menopause and monthly periods create a higher risk of gum disease developing as gums can become more sensitive during these times.

  • Several health conditions such as diabetes, cancer or HIV.

  • Some medications affect saliva production and make the mouth dry, taking away the protective effect of saliva against gum disease. Some medications also affect gum tissue growth.

  • Smokers have an increased risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers.

  • A family history of gum disease can increase a person's risk.

How to treat gum disease?

Mild gum disease can usually be treated with good oral health. This means brushing your teeth correctly twice a day along with flossing. Your dentist may recommend either with themselves or a dental hygienist a thorough clean. They will be able to remove any hardened plaque, called tartar.

If mild gum disease is ignored and develops into Periodontitis your dentist will discuss with you treatment options which will involve deeper cleaning.

If you notice your gums are bleeding book in an appointment with one of our friendly dentists at Primrose Hill Dental Practice by calling 020 7722 0860.

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